• 2020

No Ordinary Joe

Mopar Magazine congratulates

Joe Dehner

on his retirement from the FCA US LLC Product Design Office and his most recent role as Head of Ram and Mopar Design.

Designing Here

“It’s the people and culture of FCA US LLC that sets us apart from everyone else in the auto industry. We’re small,
efficient and we move quickly. You do your best thinking when you have to move quickly; and first instincts are usually right. We’re a company of survivors, we think a little bit differently from everyone else. And we have a lot of fun designing these products. So it’s easy for us to make headlines because we’re so passionate about what we do. Whether interior, exterior, design, graphics, names, themes — it’s an awesome job and there’s never a dull moment.”

Joe has worked for the company since 1988 in a number of design roles, including:

2015-2019, Head of Ram and Mopar Design, FCA US LLC – North America
2009, Head – Ram & Dodge Design, Product Design Office, FCA US LLC – North America
2007, Vice President – Production Car, Minivan, Truck and Jeep® Design, Chrysler LLC
2006, Director – Jeep/Truck Design, Chrysler Group, DaimlerChrysler
2000, Director – Small, Family and Premium Vehicle Design
1999, Senior Manager – Passenger Car Exterior Design
1997, Design Manager – Passenger Car Exterior Design, Chrysler Corporation
1994, Designer – Passenger Car Exterior Design
1991, Designer – Advance & International Design
1991, Designer – Pacifica Design
1988, Designer – Advance & International Design

Born in Indianapolis, Joe holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in industrial design from the Cleveland Institute of Art (1998).

Mopar Magazine recently had the opportunity to sit with Joe and hear his thoughts on over 30 years of design experience at FCA US LLC.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

“In my high school years, a friend’s dad worked at a Dodge dealership and used to bring home some cool muscle cars. He owned a few, too. Seeing those cars, driving those cars… That changed me. The Mopar® cars were just cool — the colors, the engines, the names of the cars, horsepower, graphic treatments; all of that converted me.”

FAVORITE ACHIEVEMENTS

“When you’re a part of something that contributes to the company’s bottom line, that’s really a good feeling. So
I’m proud of the Ram 1500 and 2500 interior and exterior designs. Those vehicles are killing it in the marketplace.
I’m also proud of my recent contributions to Mopar — accessories for Jeep® and Ram brands but also the part we have each year in Moab Easter Jeep Safari and SEMA Show conceptual vehicles.”

MOST SURPRISING DESIGN OUTCOME

“The Super Charger from SEMA 2018 — another project I’m really proud of. The Mopar product planning folks were thinking of a 426 aluminum block, 1,000 horsepower engine — that got my attention — and the design team determined the car needed to be pre-1976. It just so happened, it was the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Dodge Charger (my second favorite Mopar car). So the designers sketched a flared ‘68, acquired a car, and got the build going. A studio designer came up with the Hellephant name based on the 426 engine being referred to as an elephant engine — and it stuck. At the 2018 SEMA rollout, everybody gasped in awe.“

DESIGN VS. STYLING

“People confuse design and styling. Design is the all encompassing vision which is made up of styling, proportion, and packaging. Some think it’s ornamentation — it’s not. A designer needs to be good at a lot of things. Need to know a little bit about engineering, marketing, product planning, transportation. And knowing the competition. It’s more than just sketching ideas at your desk every day.”

THE BEST DESIGNS

“I don’t speak for all designers but I think they all want to design something that stands the test of time. That’s
a compliment to any designer. Timeless, classic styling and great proportions. And that’s really hard to do.”

THE BEST DESIGNERS

“There’s not one thing that sets one designer apart from another, really. When filling positions at FCA US LLC, we’re big on the face-to-face interview in determining fit, we love to see a great portfolio and we want to hear an
applicant’s questions for us and what they love about our brands. Even though we live in a digital age, we like our
design applicants to be able to do manual sketches and we ask to see their sketch book — this is where we see
how their design ideas form and change over time. It’s a peek into how they think.”

WHAT’S NEXT

“In retirement, I’m simply planning not to work. But my new project will be the Little Spruce Coupe, a Jeep® hot-rod based off a 2002 TJ. It’ll have a steel grill and a crate Hellcat motor. The roof is chopped nine inches.
The whole point is to project a different view of the Jeep brand. So when people see it they’ll first think old
school hot rod and then — it’s a Jeep brand vehicle.”